“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in
finishing an activity but in doing it.”
I just finished coaching at a skating camp for 2 weeks where I noticed the focus of an overwhelming amount of skaters was in the wrong direction. Skating camps are an amazing opportunity to work with a variety of established and knowledgable coaches along with having the chance to train a few hours a day. However; when the focus of the skaters is faced in the wrong direction, they aren’t gaining as much useful training and information as they could be.
At the end of these camps there is usually a test session which can either be a blessing or a curse. So many skaters focus purely on passing or not passing instead of focusing and learning whats at hand. The same goes for learning jumps at these camps. It is not about the end result. It is learning how to do things properly which usually carries over to one more elements or tests. If you focus purely on passing or not passing and don’t really pay attention to what the coach is telling you, you are really losing out. Its like the quote, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” It’s the same concept in skating. The coaches may be able to get you through the test or the jumps, but they are trying to give you the tools to make your skating better. That you will be able to continue to improve and to take what they taught you at the camp and apply it afterwards when they aren’t there.
A test is a test. Sometimes you do well and sometimes its just an off day. Either way, it’s not the end of the world. You have to wait 28 days before you can test again and you are out a bit of money for the test fee, but other than that you can try again. It is not like you only have 3 chances; you can try as many times as you want! Every time you pass or fail it is still a learning experience. You get feedback from the judges each time on the test papers and many judges are very willing to discuss your test after if you would like further guidance. Some skaters get so worked up about the test because they are focusing on the end result instead of how they are skating at that moment and what they need to focus on step by step. Instead of positive keywords running through the skaters heads, it goes a little more something like “Don’t mess up. I have to pass. I don’t want to fail. I think I’m going to fail. Just don’t mess up. Don’t mess up.” Those negative conatations usually end up the opposite of what you are saying in your head. If you say don’t mess up, odds are you will mess up. Its like saying, “Don’t think of a purple elephant.” What is the first thing you think of? A ridiculous purple elephant! The skaters even get themselves worked up before the test, sometimes even the week before. The test becomes a distraction and they get nervous and tense up. When this happens, they can’t focus on what they are learning and they also can’t enjoy their practice time. The whole reason we skate is because we love it. So breathe, and enjoy the journey.
When skaters work with new coaches, they usually want to prove to them that they can land the jumps or do the spins. Reality check: coaches don’t care. That sounds harsh, but what I mean isWe would just rather see you fall with attempts at good technique, than to land the jumps with just throwing yourself up into the air and hoping for the best. I don’t mean that we don’t care about your safety or that we actually want you to fall. Of course it would be nice and we would like you to land it, but we just want you to try your best and try to do it correctly. There are countless skaters who have horrible technique and can maybe land 1 out of 15 of whatever jump they are working on. Landing only 1 random one here and there is not what the coaches are striving for. We want to give you the technique to land them consistently and correctly even if that change doesn’t happen during the camp. Breaking bad habits and learning good ones takes time. We don’t expect the skaters to land it the day we change something. If we see that they are understanding what we are explaining and they have a few attempts in the right direction, we know they are on the right path and it will only be a matter of time before it is consistent.
I used to be guilty of the nerves. Not so much for tests, but for competitions and definitely when it came time to working with different coaches. I wanted to prove I could perform whatever we were working on. I lost out on so much great coaching at the time because I was too focused on the end result instead of learning. During my Senior year in high school at one of the camps, I had a coach that told me something that finally “clicked.” He gave me a little pep talk similar to enjoying the journey and then he said to “live in the moment.” It was a like a light bulb going off. From that day forwards I started to focus on what I was doing at that present moment. Not if I was going to land the jump, or what was coming next in the program. I focused purely on what I was doing in that moment and it changed my skating (for the better) from that moment on.
Skating is long and difficult road, but the scenic route that is being traveled is breathtaking. Enjoy the journey, even if there are a few pot holes along the way.